News that Eric Hassli was signing with the Vancouver Whitecaps broke early on Friday. But it wasn't until several hours later that it was learned he would become the team's first-ever Designated Player. Exact terms of the deal weren't released, but it was rumored to have been for four seasons.
"As we continue our preparation towards our inaugural season in Major League Soccer, we are thrilled to bring in a striker of Eric’s quality," Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi said in a team release. "There are three types of Designated Players - the marquee name, a young player with upside, and very good experienced technical players. Eric is very much in the latter category; he’s a player who will make an immediate impact and will make us a better team."
Hassli is 29 years old and in the midst of his second somewhat disappointing season, having scored just seven goals in his past two years with Swiss Super League side FC Zurich. In 2008-09, though, he scored 21 goals and had 10 assists in 34 matches while leading Zurich to the league title. In three-and-a-half years with Zurich, he scored 36 goals in 115 competitive matches. He also spent 2006-07 with French Ligue 1 side Valenciennes FC.
"It was important for us to bring in an experienced striker," Whitecaps coach Teitur Thordarson said in a team release. "Strikers are a top priority for clubs around the world, and therefore difficult to secure. Eric is big, strong, and will give us a physical presence all over the pitch. His addition will complement our team very nicely for the coming season, and I’m very much looking forward to having him in our club."